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RJ Spagnols Does anyone add oak to their port kits?

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Monty Knapp

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I have an RJS Toasted Caramel Port approaching day 42 when it's supposed to be racked. I added 20 grams of medium toasted French oak on Day 1 (not per instructions), but it fermented down to an SG of 1.000 in 6 or 7 days. At this time I racked it to a 3 gallon carboy per instructions, leaving the oak behind, so there wasn't much exposure to the oak.
I plan to bulk age for a while after racking on Day 42, so I could add another 20 grams of oak - then after several months, filter and bottle.
A little oak sounds good with "toasted caramel" to me.
Any opinions? Suggestions?

Also, I just started an RJS Raspberry Mocha Port today. Didn't add any oak. Not sure it would add anything if this ferments as quickly as the Toasted Caramel. Not sure oak would go well with this flavor of port.
Any opinions? Suggestions?

As a side note:
Noticed the instructions for the Rasp Mocha port are a little different. With the Toasted Caramel, the flavor pack was added as soon as the SG reached 1.000, along with the sorbate and finning agents.
For the Rasp Mocha port, the flavor pack isn't added until after racking on Day 42.
 

Monty Knapp

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My RJS Toasted Caramel Port mentioned in the beginning of this thread calculated out to 15% ABV - but that was before adding the flavor pack.
If the Raspberry Mocha Port I just started reaches an SG of 1.000, it will be 16% ABV - before adding the flavor pack.

I wouldn't mind bumping them up to ~18%.
Has anyone got an opinion - or experience with fortifying port kits?
 

joeswine

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I won a Best of show 2 different times with the caramel port try adding a tablespoon of instant ☕ to the secondary.
There other enhancing agent is caramel extract acholo base from Olive nation. About 4 to 6 Oz's.
 

salcoco

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adding oak to the port kits you mentioned may mask the fruit and other flavors that are meant to be available. normally grape ports will benefit from additional oak while aging.

I would do bench trials for any abv enhancement again due to risk of masking fruit flavors. the port kits are made to be balanced units balancing acids, tannin, sugar and alcohol, any change in these elements can be risky. if you wish to experiment try doing grape ports.
 

joeswine

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These kits use the fpacs as their do all , end all. Accually there not, if you break down the base wine from the fpac there is a great amount of room to play and that's were you come in as the winemaker.
This is were you make the difference.
ABV...,.....oak,,.,., enhancements .,.
Are the middle ground.
What happens to the best of them is if you go to far to the left of center not good ((as per MFG.) Conversely doing nothing is borring.
I can tell you from having a great experiences with the Coffee Port and the Caramel port these were meant to be cultured in to better than what the (MFG) expected.
 

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pillswoj

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I add oak to the Blackforest Port (RJS) along with using brandy for topping up every time it gets racked during bulk aging. I added a couple of tablespoons of ground Dark Roast coffee to the RJS Coffee Port I made, it after 2 years of aging is fantastic.
 

joeswine

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Some how on the caramel port the pic of the Carmel extract was ommited.
 

Monty Knapp

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adding oak to the port kits you mentioned may mask the fruit and other flavors that are meant to be available. normally grape ports will benefit from additional oak while aging.

I would do bench trials for any abv enhancement again due to risk of masking fruit flavors. the port kits are made to be balanced units balancing acids, tannin, sugar and alcohol, any change in these elements can be risky. if you wish to experiment try doing grape ports.
Thanks for the feedback.
As far as oak goes, I'm expecting the "main" flavors in the port to be robust enough that the oak won't mask them - but you have a point in regards to the more subtle flavors. My aim with the Toasted Caramel Port is to add a subtle underlying vanilla/oak flavor to complement to caramel.

For the Raspberry Mocha, I'm thinking the oak may need to be a little stronger (but not too much). I'm assuming the cocoa flavor will stand up to the oak, but the rasspbery flavor may not.

About the ABV - I kind of had it in my mind that the minumum for a port was ~18%. After adding the flavor pack (~1 quart) to the Toasted Caramel, I'm wondering if it isn't down to ~14% now. I'll have to do a calculation.
So as far as adding alcohol, I'm undecided. I may just leave it as is. Depends on any further feedback here.
I've heard a 750 ml bottle of 80 or 90 proof Brandy/Cognac into 3 gallons of port wouldn't raise it that much. Again I'll have to run some calculations.
 

salcoco

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I noticed @josewine remarks above his additives was to enhance the fruit or other flavor in the wine. I would suggest a similar effort in a bench trial. for example you wish to add vanilla overtones to the Caramel port. do a bench trial with liquid vanilla and the port using sample of the wine to find the right level. this technique give you more control versus adding oak and hoping you don't over oak the wine. same goes for adding brandy bench trial any additions to determine level to be added to main batch.
 

joeswine

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Keep one thing in mind , these are designed as a sweet desert port, not a true port.
With all these type kits , IM, SB, or the ports, in the title is the key to the overall flavor.
 

Monty Knapp

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Racked the Toasted Caramel Port a few days ago. It's now bulk aging.
Tasted great! It had that high alcohol mouthfeel/vapor even though it should only be about 14% ABV - so I'm not going to fortify it.
Someday when I'm enjoying a bottle, I'll tinker with adding brandy or cognac to it to see what it's like.
 

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Sorry to just see this now. We add oak to almost all the dessert ports it adds a lot of complexity. We have also 'fortified' by adding quarente tres - a vanilla liquor that goes nicely with creme brûlée or caramel port. Have fun!
 

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